Given the heavy-handed, obtrusive and even wicked nature of government these days, it’s not surprising that evangelical Christians, especially, remain wary, leery or even easily aggrieved when it comes to anything related to local, state or federal authorities.
Yet, as believers in Jesus Christ, we don’t have the luxury of burying our head in the sand. In fact, we have an obligation to engage. In doing so, we must be always be civil – but we should never be silent.
Over twenty-years ago, Dr. Adrian Rogers, who served on the Focus on the Family Board of Directors and who pastored Bellevue Baptist Church for over thirty-years, preached a powerful sermon on the six duties of Christian citizens.
Of course, we have rights – but we also have responsibilities. Here’s how Dr. Rogers articulated them. Always a fan of alliteration because he believed the points more memorable, I think you’ll quickly notice a pattern.
First, we’re to PAY our government. The dreaded “Tax Day” is coming up next month, and who among us likes to fork over hard-earned dollars to bureaucrats who spend it like drunken sailors?
But Jesus paid his taxes (Matthew 17:24-27), and makes clear we’re to do the same, telling the Pharisees to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).
Second, we’re to PRAY for our government. We may find it challenging to pray for leaders who work tirelessly to defend the taking of innocent life or who labor long each day to destroy the family – but we should be especially asking the Lord to change their hearts and minds.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,” Paul wrote Timothy, “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim 2:1-2).
Third, we’re to PRAISE our government. Thankfully, there are some good and faithful representatives in both Houses of Congress. “Catch them doing something good” to paraphrase the old business adage. Politicians are so accustomed to being criticized that a little encouragement will go a long way.
Patriotism is a positive and productive emotion, too, and it’s often rooted in faith. It was President John Adams who once noted, “The general principles on which the [founding] fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity.”
Fourth, we’re to PREACH to our country. Some Christians hold to the false and ridiculous notion that faith and government should never intersect, but a person with a Christian worldview recognizes that our belief in God should affect everything and everyone.
“What is the chief end of preaching?” asked Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones. “I like to think it is this: It is to give men and women a sense of God and His presence.” As Christians, we need to do our best to make sure our unbelieving family, friends, neighbors and even strangers are aware that the Lord is present and active in this world. He is the hope we all need.
Fifth, we’re to PARTICIPATE. Years ago, the late Tom Minnery, senior vice president of public policy at Focus on the Family, wrote a book in which he highlighted individuals like William Wilberforce and Theodore Weld who helped eradicate slavery. He also shined a spotlight on William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army.
Before any of the monuments of heroes were cast in stone or metal, they were ordinary men or women. The difference was they did something. They stepped up and out. We need to do the same.
Sixth, we need to PERSUADE our government. In many cases, it may seem a hopeless cause. But God’s truth can pierce the hardest heart. We need to lobby our elected officials, campaign for good people running for office, write emails and letters, forge relationships with neighbors and work to change public opinion by first sharing God’s perspective on the relevant matters of this world.
Just yesterday, Dr. Al Mohler, yet another esteemed former Focus Board member, tweeted, “A Christian home is to be the first school, the first church, and the first government.”
A very good reminder that as Christian citizens, our first responsibilities remain at home – and that our children aren’t only listening, but watching us, too.
Photo from Shutterstock.